Nevada teachers' tax plan draws 152,703 signatures

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — The state teachers union's initiative petition to create a new business tax for education gathered 152,703 signatures, state officials said.

That's more than twice the 72,352 signatures the Nevada State Education Association needed to require the 2013 Legislature to consider the proposal, the secretary of state's office said Wednesday.

"The raw count is sufficient," said Scott Gilles, deputy secretary of state for elections.

He told the Las Vegas Sun (http://bit.ly/WzyWYp ) that the count shows there also are more than the required 18,088 signatures of registered voters in each of the state's four congressional districts.

Gilles said counties in each of the districts must now examine 5 percent of the names, or 500 signatures — whichever is greater — to verify there are enough valid signatures of registered voters to surpass the 18,088 threshold.

The counties facing a Dec. 6 deadline to verify the signatures and report back to the secretary of state.

Lynn Warne, president of the teachers union, said the 150,000-plus signatures are a "clear mandate" that Nevadans support a 2 percent business margins tax for public schools.

"The Legislature should not ignore the mandate," she said.

But the teachers union still needs a favorable ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court to move forward with the plan.

Carson District Judge James Wilson ruled last month the 200-word description of what the tax would do was deceptive and therefore invalid. But the association is appealing to the high court, which plans to hear the case Dec. 5.

If approved, the tax would raise an estimated $800,000 a year to go into the state's school support formula.

Opponents include the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and the Nevada Taxpayers Association. They say there is no guarantee the money would be spent on education.

If the court sides with the union and enough signatures are found valid by the county registrars, the Legislature would be required to decide in the first 40 days of the 2013 session whether to implement the tax.

If legislators reject the tax, then the matter would be placed before voters in the 2014 general election.

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Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com

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